Good Sunday Morning!
It has been a rough patch for the world, as bombs drop in Ukraine, Japan’s former PM is assassinated, people are slaughtered in Tigray, while closer to home, far too many news articles start with recent gun violence. I have been struck by how many describe incidents perpetrated by a “22-year old white man (men).” Whether in Highland Park, Illinois or the Copenhagen mall or here in Saanich, young men with guns seem to be turning dark thoughts of violence into deadly terror.
The death of the two young men, brothers – not twin brothers, but two siblings with a third triplet – occurred in Saanich-Gulf Islands – in a quiet neighbourhood I know well from knocking on doors. The shock of it requires some reflection.
It is not a time for snap judgements. We know too little, but it does seem that two otherwise well-cared for, healthy and untroubled young men from Duncan (further north on Vancouver Island) were drawn to nihilism. They appear to have been twisted by disinformation about our “loss of freedoms” into wanting to lose their lives while killing others. The CBC reported that their social media posts included “plenty of pro-gun, anti-Trudeau posts with hashtags like #tryandtaketheguns, #
Over-heated political rhetoric suggesting Canada is turning into Nazi Germany is not restricted to the Instagram account of the now deceased Auchterlonie brothers. I hear it in the Conservative leadership race. I hear it in Parliament.
Those who seek to gain political advantage through such rhetoric need to be called to account. That includes Conservative leadership candidates Pierre Poilievre and Leslyn Lewis. I would never suggest opposition parties should not be strong and clear in why they oppose Liberal policies but fomenting such intense personal hatred of the prime minister, claiming we no longer live in a democracy, that we are no longer free, is dangerous for the country. That kind of rhetoric can have fatal consequences.
As much as gun violence gets headlines, we must never turn away from the increasing toll of drug poisonings in the Opioid crisis. This week, the NDP provincial government boasted of its $150 million out of court settlement with the Big Pharma source of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma Canada.
Of course, this is a slap on the wrist as court settlements go. But when the case was first filed in 2018, Purdue denied any liability. The settlement still needs to be approved by the court, and then it will be divided up among all provinces and territories and the federal government.
Meanwhile, six British Columbians die every day in the drug poisoning crisis. Advocates for immediate action to save lives were not impressed with the settlement.
From The Tyee:
“Right now, people are not dying from prescription drugs… they’re dying from the street supply, which is illegal and unregulated,” said Garth Mullins, a board member for the British Columbia Association of People on Methadone. He explained that the reason people are dying now is due to government policy more than Big Pharma. He sees such suits as deflecting attention from government failures.
One of my constituents – and now a dear friend – Leslie McBain lost her son to the opioid crisis. She is one of the co-founders of an extremely effective advocacy group – Moms Stop the Harm. Here is the donate page from their website. They do such good work:
Another constituent and dear friend wrote a brilliant piece in the Globe and Mail this week, defending the right of women to legal and safe abortions. The Hon. Pat Carney recounted the amazing tale of her single vote in 1991 that stemmed the tide of “yes” votes and defeated a restrictive abortion law. She tells of how she left Vancouver and planned medical treatment to rush back to Ottawa to vote.
Here is an excerpt—sadly it is behind a Globe and Mail paywall:
The tension in my office before the Senate vote was palpable. Calls flooded in, including one from Ms. Campbell (the Hon. Kim Campbell), who, as justice minister, was tasked with steering the bill through Parliament. She urged me to support the bill. I was stunned. “Heavy, heavy pressure,” I wrote in my diary.
The bells rang for the vote. Senators streamed into the Red Chamber. The suspense was stomach-churning.
When Senate Speaker Guy Charbonneau called for the vote on Bill C-43, most of the opposition Liberal senators stood and voted “nay.” Although Mr. Mulroney had called for a free vote in the House and in the Senate (except for his cabinet ministers), Conservative senators were not expected to vote down their own government’s bill. We had the option to simply abstain.
But when the Speaker turned to senators on the government side and asked me how I voted, I pushed myself up on my feet and said: “nay.” Heads turned.
Thank you, Pat!!!
This week is busy. I am grateful I will be able to stay in Saanich-Gulf Islands for constituency work. As this note reveals, my constituents are amazing – well-informed and effective in their advocacy. It is such an honour to be their (your!) Member of Parliament.
One big “to do” on my list this week is to submit the Green Party contribution to the national consultation on Adaptation. It is due Friday. Here is the link if you want to send them your thoughts.
My major take away is that the government is focused on goals for 2030 and 2050 for how we respond to the climate emergency. I will try to get them to develop emergency plans to save lives this summer… this fall… today and tomorrow.
Have a great Sunday! Stay safe and well!
Elizabeth May is the Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C., and the Green Party of Canada Parliamentary Leader.
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens